I have several friends and family members who are experiencing chronic pain right now. As someone who lives with it myself, it hurts my heart to know what they are enduring. But I've also learned that pain has a cleansing element.
It makes us less self-reliant, less proud. And it gives us a small taste of what Jesus endured on our behalf. One nun who suffered two strokes and multiple other health issues, believed that every day she suffered near the end of her life was for God. In a way, she was offering her suffering up as a living sacrifice.
With that said, I'm all about doing whatever I can to help lessen someone's pain. One of the problems with pain is, it limits your ability to do what everybody else takes for granted, like going to the grocery store, renewing your driver's license, finding transportation to the doctor before and after procedures, replacing broken appliances and so much more.
People with chronic pain not only face medical restrictions, like not lifting more than ten pounds, but they also don't feel up to tasks everybody else takes for granted.
Last week, I was in a lot of pain after oral surgery and I was on my way to pick up my niece to take her to my mom's house for a visit. There's a stretch of road on the way that has 18 traffic lights. I'm pretty sure I hit at least 15 of them. By the time I arrived, I was a bear. My head was pounding and all I wanted to do was get out of the car so I could lie down somewhere.
That ailment is temporary. But I also have a permanent condition with one of my legs. Long story short, I had a blood clot after surgery in 1997 and it destroyed my leg. Every day, I have about three good hours (meaning, hours in which I don't necessarily have to elevate my leg before it starts to hurt) and I have to tell you, I'm thankful for those three hours because you can do so many activities in that time period - go to a movie, or out to eat, or to a coffee shop to meet with friends.
I walk with a slight limp and it always reminds me to be grateful for what I do have. I can still buy my own groceries, drive to my own doctor appointments, meet friends and family for dinner and attend worship. Of course, I know that a day is coming when that won't be true. It'll be true for most of us at some point. But I hope that when that day comes, I'll have the same attitude the nun had, knowing God is with me in each broken step and that I'll offer that brokenness up to God.
Until then, I'll walk with God. And I'll ask for help when I need it. And I'll offer help when others need it. Leaning on each other isn't a burden. It's the blessing of relationship.
Lee Warren is a freelance writer and editor who has written twelve non-fiction books, one novella and hundreds of articles for various newspapers and magazines as well as edited more than 50 books that currently appear in print. He's a fan of NASCAR, baseball, tennis, books, movies and coffee shops.